In his inaugural speech as Bowdoin’s 15th president, Clayton Rose spoke to the necessity of “full-throated intellectual discovery and discourse” to an audience of former presidents, guests, alumni, faculty, staff and students in Farley Field House Saturday morning. His speech, “Why We Are Here,” echoed the Inaugural Weekend’s overall tone in praising the liberal arts and expressing a continued need for dialogue. 

“[Bowdoin] is a place where we are sheltered from much of the angst and struggle of the ‘real world,’” Rose said. “And this is as it should be: it should be comfortable and safe enough to allow us to engage in our core mission of full-throated intellectual discovery and discourse—which is most decidedly uncomfortable and unsafe.” 

Echoing his convocation speech and his address to first-years, Rose stressed the need to be “intellectually courageous” and maintain faith in the value of the liberal arts despite efforts “to reduce the value of this education to salaries.”

Chair of the Board of Trustees Debbie Barker ’80 thought Rose’s remarks exemplified his role at the College.

“His commitment to the liberal arts is steadfast and, at a time when the value of this form of education is being questioned, he will be a great spokesperson and supporter,” Barker said in an email to the Orient. “Finding one’s passion and listening and engaging in dialogue with others—especially if people disagree —are hallmarks of the liberal arts tradition.”

Ethan Barkalow ’18, who attended the Installation Ceremony, found Rose’s speech good, but too general.

“I think, if anything, I would’ve wished I got a little more specific information for what he was going to view his presidency,’” he said.

Though only 125 of the approximately 1,100 attendees of the ceremony and following luncheon were students, some partook in the weekend’s other events or watched the Installation Ceremony online.

“It was a big event and I’ve talked to President Rose a couple times in passing on the quad,” said Jenna Scott ’19, who watched the ceremony on live stream. “As a first year too, I feel for him a bit.”

Regardless of their level of participation over the weekend, students expressed their hope that Rose would use his role to preserve the good of Bowdoin’s past while creating a new, even better future. 

Tyrone Li ’16 said he hopes that Rose will continue former president Barry Mills’ legacy of improving financial aid as well as mirroring his constant presence around campus. 

 “Bowdoin has a different history than the one we live in,” Bill De La Rosa ’16 said. “There is a divide between the old Bowdoin and the new Bowdoin.”

De La Rosa, who spoke at the Installation on the importance of being “global citizens before anything else,” emphasized his hopes for Rose to increase diversity on campus and help students of different backgrounds transition to Bowdoin.

De La Rosa has already been pleasantly surprised with Rose’s tone these past few months.

“He was definitely part of the norm of previous presidents. Besides the fact that he was a white male, he was also largely from that corporate side,” De La Rosa said. “But these few months [through his attendance at lectures, his emails, his first address to the College about race, his welcoming of social justice events on campus] have...for me personally, really said...that he is well aware of everything that affects students in our contemporary society.”

The Inauguration Ceremony was preceded by an Inaugural Procession across the Quad featuring delegates from a plethora of other institutions of higher education. The ceremony concluded when Mills handed the keys to the College over to Rose. 

“It’s interesting that Bowdoin is this unifying concept that everyone can get behind even though the school has changed drastically,” said Emma Maggie Solberg, assistant professor of English.

Solberg was impressed by not only the stateliness of the ceremony, but also the collective praise of the liberal arts, especially considering she does not have a liberal arts background.

“I’m still shocked by the liberal arts. It’s such an amazingly different pedagogical system from anything I’ve ever come up against before,” she said. “So it was very interesting for me to see the alumni coming back and pay their respects to Bowdoin because they love Bowdoin...I’m just so curious about that kind of love felt by an alum for Bowdoin decades later.”

Chuck Dinsmore ’69 was one of these alumni who returned for Inauguration.

“Every person on the dais was a spectacular representation of a liberal arts education. Each bringing their own personal experiences to the floor...examining the past, enjoying the present, looking to the future, welcoming Clayton Rose is just a very Bowdoin experience,” said Dinsmore. “[These are] things that those of us who went to college here have come to appreciate more each year following our graduation.”

Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster echoed Dinsmore’s phrasing, calling the events part of “a great Bowdoin weekend.”

“[It was a great celebration] to see so many people come back, to see such energy…to have Clayton welcomed in that way,” Foster said. “To see three of our presidents together was powerful. It’s really quite remarkable to think it’s only happened 15 times in the history of the College.”

James Callahan, Matt Shen, Lucy Ryan, Max Larson, Gideon Moore, Harry DiPrinzio, Calder McHugh, and Matthew Gutschenritter contributed to this report.